A study has found that couples who attempt to conceive within three months of losing an early pregnancy have the same, if not greater, chances of having a baby than those who wait.
The findings have put into question traditional advice that couples should wait at least three months after a loss before attempting to get pregnant again. The World Health Organization recommends waiting a minimum of six months between a pregnancy loss and a new attempt.
“Couples often seek counseling on how long they should wait until attempting to conceive again,” said Enrique Schisterman, Ph.D., chief of the Epidemiology Branch at NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) and senior author of the study. “Our data suggest that women who try for a new pregnancy within three months can conceive as quickly, if not quicker, than women who wait for three months or more.”
Previous studies of pregnancy spacing have focused on when women should become pregnant after experiencing a loss, but few have addressed the question of when couples should start trying to conceive.
Primary author Dr Karen Schliep, a postdoctoral fellow at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development in the US, says the study found there is no physiological reason for delaying attempts at conception after miscarriage, although “couples may need time to heal emotionally before they try again”.
“For those who are ready, our findings suggest that conventional recommendations for waiting at least three months after a loss may be unwarranted,” she says.
The National Institutes of Health study, published in the Obstetrics & Gynecology journal, followed 1083 women who had miscarried before 20 weeks gestation.
The researchers found that more than 76 per cent of the women attempted to conceive within three months after losing a pregnancy. Compared to those who waited longer, this group was more likely to become pregnant (69 per cent compared to 51 per cent) and to have a pregnancy leading to a live birth (53 per cent compared to 36 per cent).
Up to 1 in 4 confirmed pregnancies end in miscarriage before 20 weeks, but many other women miscarry without having realised they are pregnant.
If you or someone you know needs support after a miscarriage contact SANDS 1300 072 637
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